James Marston: Why I love being a journalist

James Marston explain journalese

James Marston explain journalese - Credit: Archant

It’s so much fun being a journalist.

Every day my plain-speaking-photographer-friend-Lucy and I get to meet people, help form opinions, stand up for democracy, and look out for the interests of the man on the Clapham omnibus. Even in this day and age when the freedom of speech and freedom of the press is dangerously threatened far more than people realise, I cannot help thinking I have a great job.

But perhaps the best fun of all is when it comes to writing the conversations, experiences, sights and sounds of what we’ve experienced. The words and phrases that you only see in print have long amused and intrigued me.

We call it journalese and though it might be lazy of us journalists, using these words and phrases are so much fun.

Here are a few of my favourites.


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Jaunty angle – used whenever you describe a hat.

Mystery surrounds – no one has a clue, least of all the journalist who wrote it.

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Mystery deepens – no one still has a clue, least of all the journalist who wrote it.

Excessive profits – something companies we don’t like achieve. They usually put these profits into coffers.

Overpaid/Highly paid/fat cat – anyone better paid than journalists and someone we don’t like.

Shameful secret – something that everyone has but once in print enables us to make a judgement on someone else.

Observers/commentators – a quick chat in the newsroom in which everyone gives their opinion which saves making a phone call to someone specific, other journalists.

Questions are being asked – usually by the journalist and no one else.

Controversial - journalists are talking about it and we once did a front page on this very issue/person/institution/topic.

War machine – the military forces of a country we don’t like as opposed to British forces/peacekeepers/defences who we do like and must never criticise.

Thumbs up, green light, rubber stamp – actions that take place - though they don’t really - because for some reason no one understands approved or ratified.

Massive price hikes – rises – large or small - in the cost of things we don’t want to pay for.

Scroungers – anyone on benefits.

Kick-start – start.

Draconian measure – something we don’t like.

Boffin – anyone who knows anything about science – unlike journalists.

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